Buyers Tout Bold Yet Commercial Pieces in London
LONDON — A light schedule, amidst heavy protesting, was presented at this season's London Fashion Week Men's with many big-name brands still missing from the short three-day list. Burberry managed to strong-arm its women's wear pre-collection debut as a starter to the weekend's events. To pad out the schedule, the British Fashion Council introduced the Discovery Lab, a platform to showcase emerging local talents — retailers paid attention to both new and young labels and said that their creativity really shined through.
“Print and pattern is king for spring ‘19 and it should be worn clashed,” said Simon Longland, general merchandise manager for men's wear and sports at Harrods. He also said London is a great place for new talent, and men's fashion week continues to spotlight and champion emerging talent.
Creativity aside, Tyler Franch, men's and women's fashion director at Hudson's Bay Co. and The Room, noted that designers were becoming more environmentally aware. “Sustainability has popped up on a few designers' show notes this week,” he said.
Meanwhile, David Aquilina, head of men's wear buying at Harvey Nichols, was impressed by designers who not only presented innovative designs but also showed great commercial potential.
Jack Cassidy, men's wear buying manager at Selfridges, loved the casual minimal trend. “It's an aesthetic that is clean and sharp yet with a relaxed edge,” he said, although his must-have item was a tartan zip-up jacket from Stefan Cooke.
Here, a roundup of the London highlights from the retailers: and it should be worn clashed. Liam Hodges styled heritage prints with Hawaiian florals, and checks and tartans were paired together at Oliver Spencer. London champions streetwear like no other, and this season, streetwear was taken back to its London roots with retro shell-suits, coordinated separates, nylon and emblazoned logos — streetwear is here for the foreseeable future.
Talent Scouting: I was very impressed with Qasimi this season and loved the laid-back, adventurous, romantic style of the collection — from the designs to the earthy color palette. When separated out, the collection has a lot of commercial potential. Must-have Item: I will be picking up one of Edward Crutchley's printed shirts — a wardrobe staple for summer that was center stage this season.
London Takeaway: My biggest takeaway from London was the reaffirmation of why London kicks off the men's shows and should continue to do so. London ensures emerging designers have their moment in the spotlight, in a city that embraces creativity and heroes groundbreaking designers like no other. London starts the season with a huge burst of creative energy, and buyers scramble to scout out the latest talent from London. Men's fashion director at
Bergdorf Goodman and
Favorite Collection: Martine
Rose presented an eclectic, inclusive vision of her London man and it was enthralling. Cottweiler also presented their best show to date with great athletic-driven sportswear with a tech/performance edge.
Trend Spotting: Athletic/tech/ performance sportswear continues to drive interest here. Volume and proportion are also becoming a bigger part of the conversation, with fuller trousers and oversize shirts and outerwear pervasive here.
Best Venue: Martine Rose's cul-de-sac setting in Kentish Town for her “Love Story to London” collection was utterly charming and a beautiful, accomplished show. I always love a Charles Jeffrey Loverboy spectacle.
London Takeaway: I always find being here in London inspiring.
It's a very fertile place with a lot that sparks my curiosity. The show schedule was a bit leaner than usual, but the runway is only one aspect of what's on offer here, where I had some great appointments and did some very productive scouting. I always leave London having found some exciting things.
Buyers favored the bold use of prints and patterns on a display as a running theme among young, emerging talent.
Men's and women's fashion director at Hudson's Bay Co. and The Room
Favorite Collection: My favorite collections were Martine Rose, Cottweiler, A-Cold-Wall, Matthew Miller and Alex Mullins. The flavor of Martine Roses' collection is the kind of London spirit that gets me so excited to bring back to Canada. It's the kind of product that can make an emotional connection with a client that Hudson's Bay is looking for.
Trend Spotting: Sustainability has popped up on a few designers show notes this week. As streetwear smartens up we're seeing more and more tailoring, mixed with sport influences, and soft tailoring paired back to the not-going-anywhere dad sneaker. Must-Have Item: The statement blazer, belt bags, acid yellow, the printed silk top and anything transparent or metallic.
Best Venue: The best venue was Martine Rose's celebration of London's eclectic, cool kids down a cul-de-sac close to Kentish Town where the local neighbors were invited to gather around and fall in
love with Martine like I did.
Head of men's wear buying at Harvey Nichols
Favorite Collection: Two collections stood out this weekend, which held all the above principles: Martine Rose was by far the standout collection and venue, as well as Paria Farzaneh.
Talent Scouting: In terms of new talent, Paria Farzaneh shows huge potential and a great use of print threading through the collection. We expect we will be seeing a lot more of this bold use of print this season.
London Takeaway: London Fashion Week for us is about finding newness, innovation and supporting homegrown talent, so it's great when we find brands that combine all of this and also have commercial awareness.
Men's wear buying manager at Selfridges
Favorite Collection: Charles Jeffrey's show was my standout of the season. His vision is so captivating and bold and amongst the performance art and theater of the show there were so many desirable and commercial pieces, from intarsia knitwear to shirts and jersey.
A-Cold-Wall was a rousing spectacle and a confident representation of the world of A-Cold-Wall. The Liam Hodges Las Vegas-inspired show was also a highlight, with the humorous twist and bold prints fabrication, it's certain that it's his most accomplished collection yet. I also loved the Man show and think it really embodied the humor, creativity and bravery that London fashion is built on. Trend Spotting: Casual minimal was a trend that massively stood out; it's an aesthetic that is clean and sharp yet with a relaxed edge. We also saw military and utilitarian detailing, especially in pieces such as sleeveless utility vests. Also face and body art was seen in many shows to complement the clothing and convey the narrative. Must-have Item: Stefan Cooke's tartan zip-up jacket with circular button detailing is my must-have item.
Best Venue: The Martine Rose outdoor runway was the perfect end to a beautiful Sunday. Inclusivity at its maximum, the residents of the street — where the show was held — were invited to witness the spectacle that ensued. London Takeaway: It's great to see the emerging London-based talent progressing and following their journey as designers. At Selfridges, we're fully supportive of nurturing talent, and it's clear this season that the amount of talent at LFWM is exponentially growing.
Fashion director at
Favorite Collection: I have three favorite collections: A-Cold-Wall for its precision, sharpness and approach toward a fully functional wardrobe; Charles Jeffrey, the new symbol of English eccentricity, and finally Martine Rose for its sensual and edgy masculinity. Trend Spotting: Over all the men's wear collections, there were definitely three themes that emerged. There were a lot of functional and futuristic outfits as well as fluid tailoring that was edgier than traditional tailored pieces. I also saw a lot of preppy meets workwear styles.
Talent Scouting: I saw Bianca Saunders from her last show last year at the Royal College of Art and I continued to be impressed by her. I'm also keeping my eye on JordanLuca, a new street and sportswear brand.
Must-have Item: Definitely a short-sleeve shirt.
Best Venue: Martine Rose's venue, it was the perfect end to a sunny and packed day in London. London Takeaway: London is a great place for nights out, but this weekend the highlights were Annabel's and Virgil Set.
A look from the Matthew Miller men’s spring show.
A look from the Martine Rose men’s spring show.
A look from the Edward Crutchley men’s spring show.